Saturday, November 8, 2008

Take Three

Wow, this is the third and hopefully final version of this post. I published two different iterations earlier, but ended up having misgivings about both. This goes to the heart of how difficult it is to write and think about race and class, especially in a neighborhood caught between gentrification pressure and a crumbling economy.

So here's the thing: Thursday night some neighborhood violence hit too close to home, and I decided in my initial post to let off steam and indulge some armchair analysis: wondering about Obama's victory, and whether its euphoria had reached as far as the Latino community. I suspected that some of our own neighbors might be feeling slightly left out of the party.

Suffice it to say, we've seen an uptick in crime, noise, and generally disrespectful actions lately that have me feeling both vulnerable and pessimistic. While these issues shouldn't be linked even remotely to presidential campaigns, part of me wonders how Latinos--who actually voted for Obama at a staggering 66% rate--are situating themselves in a presidency that's being framed in largely black and white terms.

The photo above points to some of the ambivalence that may swirl around Obama's victory, at least in communities like ours. It may not be easy to see, but that hand-painted sign--on a garage on the most affluent and desireable block in the area--has been tagged several times. Tiny scrawled 'yes'ses, and the more prominent strike-through across Obama's name, which appeared only since Tuesday's results.

I'm hopeful that the healing Obama's presidency represents will reach beyond black and white into richer and more complicated boundary waters. If Obama has the chance to make any policy at all, I hope he'll do so first in the interests of those who are struggling the most, which means class needs to be a key consideration. This seems to be our only chance for real and meaningful shifts that trickle down to the community level. For all too many, that's long overdue.

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